Liberal megadonor Tom Steyer, failing to raise any significant outside money for his global warming Super PAC, turned to one of his San Francisco neighbors for a million dollar check. It was Herb Sandler, the subprime mortgage lender at the heart of the housing crisis, and like Steyer a huge hypocrite.
Tom Steyer made his fortune as an international coal financier while enticing investors with a tax-avoidance strategy featuring offshore shelters in the Caymans, Mauritius, and Singapore. Now he's using that fortune to support liberal Democrats who want to hike taxes and deny hardworking Americans access to the same affordable energy resources that made him rich.
That's a hard record of hypocrisy to top, but bringing in Herb Sandler does it.
Sandler made his fortune destroying the housing market in the United States and plunging the country into the Great Recession.
He invented a mortgage product called "Pick-a-Pay," which allowed lenders to pay less than an interest-only payment each month, increasing their outstanding principal. In 2008 the New York Times reported it was "seen by an array of housing analysts and regulators as the Typhoid Mary of the mortgage industry."
The Times quoted California housing lawyer William J. Purdy III: "This product is the most destructive financial weapon ever deployed against the American middle class."
Sandler didn't just invent the product. He aggressively and deceptively marketed it. According to Time, Sandler "pushed the mortgage, which offered several ways to back-load your loan and thereby reduce your early payments, with increasing zeal and misleading advertisements." He pocketed $2.3 billion in 2006 when he sold his toxic loan portfolio to Wachovia Bank, which caused the bank to implode.
Yet Sandler has the astonishing nerve to use his ill-gotten subprime billions to become a major political player, funding a wide array of liberal organizations that purport to stand up for regular Americans. Sandler is the principal donor of the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, the liberal faux journalism outfit ProPublica, and the obscenely misnamed Center for Responsible Lending.
Center for American Progress (CAP) has for years attacked billionaires for political giving. They do it with money from a billionaire who actually caused the subprime crisis. I was invited to CAP once to talk about their attacks on conservative donors and it didn't go well - for them. I've never been invited back, but the staffer who moderated the event now works for Harry Reid.
Phil Kerpen is president of American Commitment, a columnist on Fox News Opinion, chairman of the Internet Freedom Coalition, and author of the 2011 book Democracy Denied.
American Commitment is dedicated to restoring and protecting America’s core commitment to free markets, economic growth, Constitutionally-limited government, property rights, and individual freedom.
Washingtonian magazine named Mr. Kerpen to their "Guest List" in 2008 and The Hill newspaper named Mr. Kerpen a "Top Grassroots Lobbyist" in 2011.
Mr. Kerpen's op-eds have run in newspapers across the country and he is a frequent radio and television commentator on economic growth issues.
Prior to joining American Commitment, Mr. Kerpen served as vice president for policy at Americans for Prosperity. Mr. Kerpen has also previously worked as an analyst and researcher for the Free Enterprise Fund, the Club for Growth, and the Cato Institute.
A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Mr. Kerpen currently resides in Washington, D.C. with his wife Joanna and their daughter Lilly.